My Mother, My Mentor, My Muse


You know how most people think that their mom is absolutely perfect even though we know perfection is impossible?  Yeah, I’m in that group.  My mom is very much a quiet person, behind the scenes, all-star.  I had to wrestle this picture from her because social media is simply not her thing.

Then I explained – how she’s my utmost inspiration; how I had no intention of flooding the Internet with her beauty for selfish purposes, but rather expressing my undying amazement and gratefulness for her – so I was granted this once-in-a-lifetime permission to gush to my heart’s content complete with my favorite-Mom-photo.

This is her senior picture from 1968.  The note is to my dad, who she didn’t know would be my dad then.  Heck, she didn’t even know there would be a me!  But she wrote “Love, Shirley Harris.  Stay sweet and remember me (smile).”   I’m so glad he did…

I often feel I’ve had the best of both worlds – tragedy and triumph that is.  I know some people think there’s nothing to celebrate about hardship, but having had so many, I disagree.  My grandmother used to say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  And as a kid, I thought that was a horrible thing to even conceive!  “Who wants to go through all of that?”  I’d wonder.

I didn’t know that I’d later be held at knife point and gunpoint; that I’d be drug through a boy’s house by my ankles after being hit in the face in high school; that I’d lay in my own blood in a parking lot while losing a love I’d never meet.  That I’d seriously contemplate ending my life with a rope at 13.  To say that was hard would be an understatement.  I realize now though, it’s not that you want to go through bad things. Bad things happen.  It’s what you do with it that makes a difference.

Life’s hardships have not been kind to me, and at times I think I’ve had more than my fair share. I’ve experienced the gamut of negative emotions – anger, confusion, hopelessness, doubt, depression, disgust, disappointment, loss… Nevertheless, with God’s help, I’ve drawn strength from them in ways that I never could have imagined.

I’ve encouraged others, women, men, elderly, youth, the heartbroken and downtrodden – because I was able to tell them about how I got through the anguish.  I had a point of reference for their heartache.  Interestingly, I was taught this lesson  best – by my mom.  She – and her own mother – transcended worse tragedies like a champion.

Throughout my life, I’ve had opportunities to meet amazing people that left my head spinning.  I was speechless at the things they’d endured, yet accomplished amidst their personal struggles.  I was always flattered by their thoughts of me, especially when so complimentary.

But I’m forever reminded that everything I do well, I do because of my mom.  I can trace each strength to what I gained from her.  She was my first teacher; first storyteller; chief editor and grammarian.  She created my appetite for reading and nurtured my love for words.  I type 120+ words a minute because she made me learn from her dusty old book from the 60s – when I was 12 years old.  The first money I ever earned from a “job” was because I was typing for someone else.

She taught me how to sing; how to play the piano; how to draw; how to act, to write, to think, to dance, to love, to listen, to speak….and that’s without her loving it nearly as much as I do.  She was mentoring me.  But more than anything, as I’ve “blossomed into a woman,” as one of my friends said – I am acutely aware that my mother – is my muse.  I aspire to be great, but if I could be a fraction of the woman she is, I would have far exceeded my goals.

I nicknamed her “The Oracle” many years ago.  Because in her I find wisdom, grace, strength, and beauty.  I used to be really sad that I never had a daughter – because I wanted to replicate the relationship with her that I have with my mom.  But – these boys are turning out not to be so bad after all. In fact, they’re quite the mini-mes 🙂

Either way, I am incessantly thankful that God gifted me with Shirley Harris Turner to guard me and guide me with her endless love.  My life without her wouldn’t be my life at all.  My love for her is at the core of my greatest aspirations.  She is my mother, my mentor, and my muse.

#mypassioncomesfromwithin, #shesinsideofme, #shirleyjr, #bethe1, #shehelpsmecatchmydreams, #iloveyoumom, #happymothersday



  1. Carla, this is a beautiful tribute! You have captured the essence if your mom perfectly, and I am so happy to have read this. You know she is an inspiration to many, including me. I applaud you for moving fully in the greatness God prepared for you, acknowledging the past, and embracing your future. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Catrina,
      Writing it was the easy part – because she’s given me so much richness from which to pull. Getting her to agree to it – and sanctioning that photo was something else! She is the epitome of modesty. That being said, I know her life has impacted many…it’s another way I hope to follow in her footsteps. She is easily among my greatest gems. I am eternally blessed to have her in my life… Thanks for reading!


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